05:19PM, Wednesday 25 March 2020
The British public were told they ‘must stay at home’ to slow the spread of coronavirus in an extraordinary address to the nation by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday.
Strict new measures were introduced in the fight against COVID-19, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people outside, excluding people who live in the same household.
The public were restricted to shopping for basic essentials only and one form of exercise a day, either alone or with a household member.
People are able to leave their home if they have a medical need, if they need to provide care to a vulnerable person or to go to work if absolutely necessary.
All shops selling non-essential goods were instructed to close immediately.
Police will be handed powers to issue fines if the instructions are ignored, but the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, said he was confident the ‘vast majority of the public will do their best’ to obey the new rules.
In a statement, he said: ‘These restrictions will be difficult for everyone but are necessary if coronavirus is to be brought under control.”
He added: “The powers likely to be given to the police to enforce these new rules are wide ranging but the vast majority of the public will do their best to obey them.
“The police do their jobs with the consent of the public and should only in a few instances have to enforce these new powers.
“It is with the support of the public that the police will be able to continue to provide safety to the people of the Thames Valley.
“It is up to all of us to make sure we do our best to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.”
The council’s lead member for adult social care, children’s services, health and mental health, Cllr Stuart Carroll, said he was in complete agreement with central government.
He said on Tuesday: “I think we’re in a situation now where we have to curtail and stop the spread of the virus and, unfortunately, as we saw over the last couple of days, we didn’t have enough people complying with the health protocols.
“It is absolutely critical that everybody plays their part now.
“This is an extremely serious virus. It’s virulent, it can kill, it can make people extremely ill and all of us have to place our thoughts and mentality within that context and adjust our behaviours accordingly.”
He added: “This is mainly going to need to be a police-led enforcement exercise as needed but, of course, I would hope the police are not required to enforce, because people do the right thing and comply.
“We don’t need our police stretched in this way and we don’t need police officers being put at risk by having to enforce, because our police officers having to do that are also going to be putting themselves in harm’s way, just like NHS workers are doing.”
Cllr Carroll stressed the importance of retaining a two-metre (6ft 6ins) distance when in public spaces on the occasions set out in the new rules.
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